Category Archives: Community

DConf Online 2020: Call For Submissions

DConf Online 2020 LogoDConf Online 2020 is happening November 21 & 22, 2020 in your local web browser! We are currently taking submissions for pre-recorded talks, livstreamed panels, and livecoding events. See the DConf Online 2020 web site for details on how you can participate. Keep reading here for more info on how it came together and what we hope to achieve, as well as for a reminder about the 2020 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code (the SAOC 2020 registration deadline is just over three weeks away!).

Maybe Next Time, London!

Due to the onset of COVID-19, the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments decided in early March to cancel DConf 2020, which had been scheduled to take place June 17–20 in London. DConf has been the premiere D programming language event every year since 2013, the one chance for members of the D community from around the world to gather face-to-face outside of their local meetups for four days of knowledge sharing and comradery. It was a painful decision, but the right one. As of now, we can’t say for sure there will be a DConf 2021, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely.

Immediately upon reaching the decision to cancel DConf, the obvious question arose of whether we should take the conference online. It was something none of the DConf organizers had any experience with, so we were unwilling to commit to anything until we could figure out a way to go about it that makes sense for our community. As time progressed and we explored our options, the idea became more attractive. Finally, we settled on an approach that we think will work for our community while still allowing outsiders to easily drop by to get a look at our favorite programming language.

We also decided that this is not going to be an online substitute for the real-world DConf. That’s why we’ve named it DConf Online 2020 and not DConf 2020 Online. We’re planning to make this an annual event. The real-world DConf will still take place in spring or summer (barring pandemics or other unforeseen circumstances), and DConf Online six months or so later. Without the DConf cancellation, we never would have reached this point, so for us that’s a bit of a bright side to these dark days.

DConf on YouTube

DConf Online will take place on the D Language Foundation’s YouTube Channel. The event will kick off with a pre-recorded keynote from Walter Bright, the creator and co-maintainer of D, on November 21, scheduled to premiere at a yet-to-be-determined time. Other pre-recorded talks will be scheduled to premiere throughout the weekend, including a Day Two keynote on November 22 from co-maintainer Átila Neves. Presenters from the pre-recorded talks will be available for livestreamed question and answer sessions just as they would be in the real-world DConf.

We’ll also be livestreaming an Ask Us Anything session, a DConf tradition, with Walter and Átila. We’re looking for other ideas for livestream panels. Anyone submitting a panel proposal should either be willing to moderate the panel or have already found someone to commit to the position.

And we really, really want to have at least two livecoding sessions. Anyone familiar with D who has experience livecoding is welcome to submit a proposal. Ideally, we’re looking for sessions that present a solid demonstration of D in use, preferably a small project designed exclusively for the livestream, something that can be developed from start to finish in no more than 90 minutes. We aren’t looking for tutorial style sessions that go into great detail on a feature or two (though that sort of thing is great for a pre-recorded talk submission!), but something that shows how a D program comes together and what D features look like in action.

Everything you need to know to submit a pre-recorded talk, panel, or livecoding session to the D Language Foundation can be found at the DConf Online 2020 web site. We’ll have more details here and on the web site in the coming weeks as our plans solidify. Oh, and everyone whose submission is accepted will receive some swag from the DLang Swag Emporium (DConf Online 2020 swag is coming soon).

BeerConf

It’s a DConf tradition that a gathering spot is selected where attendees can get together each evening for drinks, food, and conversation. For many attendees, this is a highlight of the conference. The opportunity to engage in conversation with so many smart, like-minded people is not one to be missed. Ethan Watson dubbed these evening soirees “BeerConf”, and the name has stuck.

Recently, Ethan and other D community members have been gathering for a monthly online #BeerConf. Given that it’s such an integral part of the DConf experience, we hope to make use of the lessons they’re learning to run a BeerConf in parallel to DConf Online, starting on the 20th. Despite the name, no one will be expected to drink alcohol of any kind. It’s all about getting together to socialize as close to face-to-face as we can get online.

More details regarding BeerConf will be announced closer to the conference dates, so keep an eye on the blog!

SAOC 2020

Symmetry Autumn of Code is an annual event where a handful of lucky programmers get paid to write some D code. Sponsored by Symmetry Investments, SAOC 2020 is the third edition of the event. Although priority is given to university students, SAOC is open to anyone over 18.

Applicants send a project proposal and a short bio to the D Language Foundation. Those who are selected will be required to work on their project at least 20 hours per week from September 15, 2020, until January 15, 2021. The event consists of four milestones. Participants who meet their goals for the first three milestones will each receive a payment of $1000. For the fourth milestone, the SAOC Committee will evaluate each participant’s progress for the entire event. On that basis, one will be selected to receive a final $1000 payment and a free trip to the next real-world DConf (no registration fee; travel and lodging expenses reimbursed on the same terms as offered to DConf speakers). The lucky participant will be asked to submit a proposal for the same DConf they attend, but their proposal will be evaluated in the same manner as all proposals (i.e., acceptance is not guaranteed), but they are guaranteed free registration and reimbursement regardless.

Although Roberto Romaninho, our SAOC 2019 selectee, was robbed of the opportunity to attend DConf 2020, he will still be eligible to make use of his reward at our next real-world event along with the 2020 selectee. Francesco Gallà, who was selected in the inaugural SAOC 2018, gave a presentation about his project and the SAOC experience at DConf 2019. The runner up, Franceso Mecca, wrote about his own project for the D Blog.

SAOC 2020 applications are open until August 16. See the SAOC 2020 page for all the details on how to apply.

SAOC 2020 and Other News

Symmetry Autumn of Code 2020

Symmetry Investments logo

The 3rd annual Symmetry Autumn of Code (SAoC) is on!

From now until August 16th, we’re accepting applications from motivated coders interested in getting paid to improve the D ecosystem. The SAoC committee will review all submissions and, based on the quality of the applications received, select a number of applicants to complete four milestones from September 15th to January 15th. Each participant will receive $1000 for the successful completion of each of the first three milestones, and one of them will receive an additional $1000 and a free trip (reimbursement for transportation and accommodation, and free registration) to the next real-world DConf (given the ongoing pandemic, we can’t yet be sure when that will be).

Anyone interested in programming D is welcome to apply, but preference will be given to those who can provide proof of enrollment in undergraduate or postgraduate university programs. For details on how to apply, see the SAoC 2020 page here at the D Blog.

The participants will need mentors, so we invite experienced D programmers interested in lending a hand to get in touch and to keep an eye out in the forums for any SAoC applicants in search of a mentor. As with the previous edition of SAoC, all mentors whose mentee completes the event will be guaranteed a one-time payment of $500 after the final milestone (mentors of unsuccessful mentees may still be eligible for the payment at the discretion of the SAoC committee). Potential mentors can follow the same link for details on their responsibilities and how to make themselves available.

We’re also looking for community input on potential SAoC projects. If there’s any work you’re aware of that needs doing in the D ecosystem and which may keep a lone coder occupied for 20 hours per week over four months, please let us know! Once again, details on how submit your suggestions and what sort of information we’re looking for can be found on the SAoC 2020 page.

Our SAoC 2019 selectee, Roberto Rosmaninho, was all set to attend DConf 2020 and we were all looking forward to meeting him. He’ll still be eligible to claim his free DConf trip at the next available opportunity.

SAoC would not be possible without the generosity of Symmetry Investments. A big thanks to them for once again funding this event and for the other ways, both financial and otherwise, they contribute back to the D programming language community.

Finances

Thanks to everyone who has shopped in the DLang Swag Emporium! To date, the D Language Foundation has received over $177 in royalties and referral fees. Thanks are also in order to those who have supported the foundation through smile.amazon.com. Your purchases have brought over $288 into the General Fund. Amazon Smile is perhaps the easiest way to support D financially if you shop through Amazon’s .com domain (the D Language Foundation is unavailable in other Amazon domains). If you’ve never done so, you can select a charitable foundation (the D Language Foundation, of course) on your first visit to smile.amazon.com. Then, every time you shop through that link, the foundation will receive a small percentage of your total purchase. Check your browser’s extension market for plugins that convert every amazon.com link to a smile.amazon.com link!

On the Task Bounties front, we may have closed out a big bounty for bringing D to iOS and iPadOS, but there are still several other bounties waiting to be claimed. The latest, currently at $220, is a bounty to improve DLL support on Windows by closing two related Bugzilla issues; 50% of the total bounty will be paid for the successful closure (merged PR and DMD release) of each issue. We welcome anyone interested in fixing these issues to either up the bounty or roll up their sleeves and start working toward claiming it. If you’d like to contribute to multiple bounties with a single credit card payment, or seed one or more new bounties with a specific amount, visit the Task Bounty Catch-All and follow the instructions there.

Finally, the question was recently raised in the forums about how to view the D Language Foundation’s finances. Because the foundation is a 501(3)(c) non-profit public charity, the Form 990 that the organization is required to submit to the IRS every year is publicly available. There are different ways you can obtain the documents for multiple years, such as searching online databases or contacting the IRS directly. Several websites, such as grantspace.org, provide details on how to do so. The Form 990 does not break down specific expenditures or sources of income except for special circumstances (like scholarship payments). With Andrei’s help, I’m currently working on gathering up more information on the past five years of the foundation’s finances so that we can put up an overview page at dlang.org. It won’t be at line-item detail, but we hope to provide a little more detail than the Form 990. I can’t provide a timeline on when it will be available (I don’t consider it a high priority task, so I’m working on it sporadically), but expect it sometime in the next few months.

DConf Online?

Rumor has it that online conferences are actually a thing. Voices in the wind speak of the potential for an annual event related to D. I don’t usually listen to voices I hear in the wind, but this time I’m intrigued…

News Update: Swag, Platforms, Documentation Help and More

Here are a few updates on things that have been going on both in front of and behind the scenes of the D Programming Language community.

New D Swag

We’ve got some new items in the DLang Swag Emporium: t-shirts, coffee mugs, and stickers sporting the Royal D logo. (If all Royal D items aren’t showing up for you in the Royal D category, check the D Rocket category. Everything should be in the correct location in a day or two).

You may notice that there are fewer options on the product page than for the other items, i.e. only one mug and sticker, and no dark tee option. They are available, though! When you select one of the existing products, you can change the style of the selection to one of several options. Beware! This may also change the price.

Remember, a small percentage of every item you order from the DLang Swag Emporium goes into the D Language Foundation’s General Fund. Plus, if you click through the link above or on the blog’s sidebar, we’ll get an additional referral fee on top of the item royalty. It’s an easy way to both get some D swag and contribute a few bucks to the Foundation.

Expanded Platform Progress

You maybe aware that some work has been ongoing in getting D onto more platforms. Adam Ruppe was working on contract to get LDC’s Android support to the finish line. He wrapped things up a few weeks back and has been paid out of the Foundation’s HR Fund.

Sebastiaan Koppe has been working on contract to get DRuntime ported to WebAssembly. Progress is ongoing and we currently expect it to be mostly wrapped up by the end of March. Like Adam, he’ll be out of the HR Fund when the contract is complete.

Work is also underway to bring LDC to iOS and iPadOS. We had been hoping to get someone to work on contract for this, but there are few people we know who are familiar enough with the platform to get it done and we were unable to find anyone then with the time to work on it. So we put up a bounty for it and kept our fingers crossed.

Recently, you may have seen forum posts from Jacob Carlborg indicating he’s been working on it in his spare time. Some preliminary support was merged in the LDC 1.20.0 release. Although he isn’t working under contract, he is working toward the bounty. That means anyone who wants to support him can contribute by increasing the bounty. Two contributors have already done so. The base amount of $3000 will be taken from the HR Fund when the work is complete.

And speaking of bounties, there are several others waiting for someone to claim them!

The HR Fund

With one payout from the fund and two coming up, we need to replenish it so we can always have cash earmarked for more contract work and bounties. You can make one-time or recurring donations of any amount directly and receive the same rewards available on our Open Collective page, or you can use a different link to make a $60 donation and get a DConf 2019 t-shirt in return. We’ve still got a few shirts available, so help us get rid of them and boost the HR Fund at the same time!

Documentation Event

Behind-the-scenes discussions about ideas to improve the D ecosystem in one way or another are frequently cycling through the inboxes of the people who can make them happen. Most never see the light of day, but there is one that has great potential. If it all comes together, I’ll be able to announce it in the coming weeks. We need your help to make that happen.

We need some specifics regarding areas where the documentation for D and items in the the D ecosystem is lacking. For example, people often complain about inconsistencies in the D spec, and missing info or examples in the DUB and vibe.d docs.

I’ve started a thread in the D forums where you can post your gripes about incomplete/missing/lackluster documentation. Remember, we need you to be specific. Just saying “the DUB docs are incomplete” doesn’t help. What specifically is missing? Or what specifically is wrong? The more information you can provide the better. And the more examples we can collect the better. The goal is to be able to define specific documentation tasks that anyone with the requisite knowledge can complete.

If we can get enough examples with enough detail, then I should be able to announce a new event sponsored by one of our generous benefactors. And I really want to be able to announce it!

DConf 2020

We really want to see a flood of talk submissions this year. If you’ve never been to DConf, or never presented at any conference, don’t let that stop you! Send us your submission and you may end up with a free trip to the conference.

Also, if you pay for an early-bird registration now (a 15% discount over the regular registration rate) and your talk is selected later, we’ll reimburse your registration fee. So if you’re planning to attend the conference even if your talk isn’t selected, it’s a good idea to register now and avoid the risk of missing the early-bird deadline.

We’re also offering once again the Open Source and Academic Discount; if you are a major open source contributor, a student, or an academic, we’ll give you a 50% discount on the regular registration rate. If you think you qualify, please don’t hesitate to take advantage of it by contacting social@dlang.org (or you can contact me directly at aldacron@gmail.com) for details on how to take advantage.

Finally, we never want to leave anyone out of DConf because they can’t afford to pay. This has been a policy of Walter’s from the beginning. If you are in or around London June 17 – 20 and would like to attend DConf but are unable to afford the registration and/or don’t qualify for the special discount, please email one of the addresses above and we’ll work something out.

DConf 2020: Submission Deadline, Early-Bird Registration, and Invited Keynote

In early January, I announced that Symmetry Investments is bringing DConf back to London for our 2020 edition. At the same time, I said we’d start taking submissions from anyone who wanted to send them in. In the interim, we’ve fixed our deadlines and prepared to start accepting reservations. There was only one thing remaining before I was ready for the formal call for submissions and opening of early-bird registrations: confirming our invited keynote speaker. Now that he has confirmed, it’s all official!

Invited Keynote

We’re excited to welcome Roberto Ierusalimschy to DConf 2020! You may know him from his work as the leading architect of the Lua programming language. He’s the author of Programming in Lua and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at PUC-Rio (the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro).

We don’t know yet what his talk will about, but it can be about any topic he wants. We’ll have more information on that for you when we publish the schedule of all selected talks after April 19.

Call for Submissions

We are accepting submissions for DConf 2020 until April 12. Authors will be notified of their final status by April 19.

We’re eager to see some new faces on the stage this year. If you’ve never presented at a DConf before, please don’t hesitate to send us one or more submissions. One person has already sent in seven!

Unless you’re Roberto Ierusalimschy, we prefer topics that are directly or indirectly related to D. We aren’t intransigent, though, so we’re willing to consider other topics. If someone sends us a proposal that isn’t about D but piques our collective interest, we’ll certainly give it serious consideration.

Having a talk selected is a great way to get to DConf if you’re on a budget. You’ll pay no registration fee, plus we’ll reimburse your transportation and lodging costs (within reason—five-star hotels and business- or first-class plane tickets aren’t on the menu). That’s a pretty good deal.

You can find instructions for writing and submitting your submissions on the DConf 2020 homepage.

Early-Bird Registration

Early-bird registration is available at $340, which is 15% off the regular $400 rate. Because we’re being sponsored by Symmetry in London once more, we once again must include a 20% VAT. So the total early-bird rate is $408 (similarly, the regular rate with VAT will be $480). We’re required by UK law to show you the basic rate and VAT in GBP based on the current HMRC exchange rate. That changes every month, so you can see the latest GPB rates in the registration section of the DConf 2020 homepage.

There, you’ll find options for Flipcause and PayPal. From our perspective, we prefer you use our Flipcause form. That gives you the option to cover the credit card processing fee for us so that 100% of your payment can be put toward DConf expenses. If you choose to uncheck that option, that’s fine, too! It will still save us from paying other fees. Every penny we can put toward the expenses helps.

If you do choose to go through PayPal, you have an option for USD and one for GBP. Some registrants told me last year that they get a GBP option even when clicking the USD button. And of course, some register with GBP-based credit cards. However, the GBP button on the DConf 2020 homepage is a fixed amount based on the current HMRC exchange rate. It changes, but only once a month. It may turn out to be cheaper for you than the rate you get from PayPal or your credit card provider. Of course, it could turn out to be more expensive, so if you’re looking to save a few pounds, you may want to investigate the different exchange rates if they apply to your situation.

And Now For Something Completely Different

DConf isn’t the only event Symmetry Investments is sponsoring these days. We recently wrapped up the 2019 edition of the Symmetry Autumn of Code.

This year, we started with five participants working on five interesting projects. Each participant was to complete a total of four milestones over four months with guidance from a mentor. At the successful completion of the first three milestones, each participant would receive $1000. At the end of the fourth and final milestone, one participant would be selected to receive one more $1000 payment and an all-expense paid trip to DConf.

As the event played out, we lost one of the participants at the end of Milestone 2. Two more were unable to fully commit to the Milestone 4 deadline (though they promised to continue working on their projects after SAOC). That left two participants for the SAOC review committee to select from. It was a very difficult decision, as both participants did excellent work and received glowing evaluations from their mentors.

Now I can announce that the SAOC 2019 finalist was Roberto Rosmaninho!

Roberto, with his mentor Nicholas Wilson, worked on adding support for Multi-Level Intermediate Representation (MLIR) to LDC, the LLVM-based D compiler. He is currently working on putting together pull requests for LDC and intends to work on optimizations going forward. He has also confirmed that he will take advantage of his reward so that we will have at least two Robertos at DConf this year.

As we did last year with Francesco Gallà, the SAOC 2018 finalist, we’ve asked Roberto to submit a talk this year. He promised to do so. We can’t promise his talk will be selected (though the odds are high out of the gate), but he still gets a free trip if it isn’t! Besides, we’re looking forward to meeting him.

On behalf of the D Language Foundation and Symmetry Investments, I want to thank everyone who participated in SAOC 2019. Keep an eye on this blog for news about future events.

Now go prep your DConf 2020 submissions!

DIP Reviews: Discussion vs. Feedback

Digital Mars D logoFor a while now, I’ve been including a link to the DIP Reviewer Guidelines in the initial forum post for every DIP review. My hope was that it would encourage reviewers to keep the thread on topic and also to provide more focused feedback. As it turns out, a link to reviewer guidelines is not quite enough. Recent review threads have turned into massive, 20+ page discussions touching on a number of tangential topics.

The primary purpose of the DIP review process, as I’ve tried to make clear in blog posts, forum discussions, and the reviewer guidelines, is to improve the DIP. It is not a referendum on the DIP. In every review round, the goal is to strengthen the content where it is lacking, bring clarity and precision to the language, make sure all the bases are covered, etc.

At the same time, we don’t want to discourage discussion on the merits of the proposal. Opinions about the necessity or the validity of a DIP can raise points that the language maintainers can take into consideration when they are deciding whether to approve or reject it, or even cause the DIP author to withdraw the proposal. It’s happened before. That’s why such discussion is encouraged in the Community Review rounds (though it’s generally discouraged in Final Review, which should be focused wholly on improving the proposal).

The problem

One issue with allowing such free-form discussion in the review threads is that there is a tremendous amount of noise drowning out the signal. Finding specific DIP-related feedback requires trawling through every post, digging through multiple paragraphs of mixed discussion and feedback. Sometimes, one or more people will level a criticism that spawns a long discussion and results in a changing of minds. This makes it time consuming for me as the DIP manager when I have to summarize the review. It also increases the likelihood that I’ll overlook something.

My summary isn’t just for the ‘Reviews’ section at the bottom of the DIP. It’s also my way of ensuring that the DIP author is aware of and has considered all the unique points of feedback. More than once I have found something the DIP author missed or had forgotten about. But if I overlook something and the DIP author also overlooks it, then we may have missed an opportunity to improve the DIP.

I have threatened to delete posts that go off topic in these threads,  but I can count on one hand the number of posts I’ve actually deleted. In reality, these discussions branch off in so many directions that it’s not easy to say definitively that a post that isn’t focused on the DIP itself is actually off topic. So I tend to let the posts stand rather than risk derailing the thread or removing information that is actually relevant.

The Solution

Starting with the upcoming Final Review of DIP 1027, I’m going to take a new approach to soliciting feedback. Rather than one review thread, I’ll be launching two for each DIP.

The Discussion Thread will be much the same as the current review thread. Opinions and discussion will be welcome and encouraged. I’ll still delete posts that are completely off topic, but other than that I’ll let the discussion flow where it may.

The Feedback Thread will be exclusively for feedback on the document and its contents. There will be no discussion allowed. Every post must contain specific points of feedback (preferably actionable items) intended to improve the proposal. Each post should be a direct reply to my initial post. There are only two exceptions: when a post author who has decided to retract feedback they made in a previous post, said poster can reply to the post in which they made the original feedback in order to make the retraction; and the DIP author may reply directly to any feedback post in order to indicate agreement or disagreement.

Posts in the feedback thread should contain answers to the questions posed in the DIP Reviewer Guidelines. It would be great if reviewers could take the time to do what Joseph Rushton Wakeling did in the Community Review for DIP 1028, where he explicitly listed and answered each question, but we won’t be requiring it. Feedback as bullet points is also very welcome.

Opinions on the validity of the proposed feature will be allowed in the feedback thread as long as they are backed with supporting arguments. In other words, “I’m against this! This is a terrible feature.” is not valid for the feedback thread. That sort of post goes in the discussion thread. However, “I’m against this. This is a terrible feature because <reasoned argument goes here>” is acceptable.

The rules of the feedback thread will be enforced without prejudice. Any post that is not a reply to my initial post, retraction of previous feedback, or a response by the DIP author will be deleted. Any post that does not provide the sort of feedback described above will be deleted. If I do delete a post, I won’t leave a new post explaining why. I’m going to update the DIP Reviewer Guidelines and each opening post in a feedback thread will include a link to that document as well as a paragraph or two summarizing the rules.

I’ll require DIP authors to follow both threads and to participate in the discussion thread. When it comes time to summarize the review, the feedback thread will be my primary source. I will, of course, follow the discussion thread as well and take notes on anything relevant. But if you want to ensure any specific criticisms you may have about a DIP are accounted for, be sure to post them in the feedback thread.

Hopefully, this new approach won’t be too disruptive. We’ll see how it goes.

 

Goings-on in DLand

The blog has been quiet for the past month, largely because I’ve been busy. I’ve had a couple of articles submitted to me which were a little light on content, so I asked the authors to flesh them out some more. Both are busy at the moment, but I’ll check back in with them in the New Year.

In the interim, I figured I’m due for a new update. I’m also working on the next article in my D and C series, which I hope to publish soon. If you’ve got something you’d like to say, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I can’t promise I’ll publish your article, but if it checks all but a few boxes I’ll be happy to work with you to check off the rest. I’m also open to Project Highlights. If you’ve got a project to show off, let me know and I’ll tell you how to proceed. The D Language Foundation pays a bounty for most guest contributions, so it’s a relatively easy way to make some cash. Speaking of bounties…

Task Bounties

Don’t forget that we’ve got 8 open task bounties awaiting someone to claim them. You can also make a contribution to increase the bounties for the tasks you’re concerned about by clicking on the corresponding card on that page. Click the first card on the page if you’d like to seed a new bounty with a contribution, but be sure to include a note with a Bugzilla issue number or a request that I contact you for details. Once we’ve got it sorted, I’ll create a new card for your task and assign the seeded amount.

I’ll be adding some new tasks to the page in January. We’d all love to see some of the existing tasks closed out before then!

Contract Work

Some readers may be aware that Adam Ruppe is working on contract for the D Language Foundation to take LDC’s Android support to completion. It looks like he’s not too far away from the finish line. You can read about his progress and his JNI module in the latest installment of This Week in D.

Back in October, Sebastiaan Koppe posted a comment in a forum thread where the OP asked what was holding up D support for WebAssembly. Sebastiaan at that point had made a few announcements about his Spasm project and posted some demos, but there was still a lot of work to be done. His response to the question:

The short answer is manpower…With D the main issue is that someone needs to port druntime to wasm. I am working on it in my spare time, but progress is slow.

I wondered if there was a way to speed things along. After securing permission from the people in charge of the Foundation’s purse strings and discussing the details with Sebastiaan, he agreed to make a dedicated effort to get the project done on contract. He needed a few weeks before he could get started. He also wanted to draw up a document detailing his approach and ask for feedback. That resulted in a forum thread, Proposal for porting D runtime to WebAssembly.

I’m happy to report that the contract has since been signed and the work is underway!

The Human Resource Fund and More

Both Adam and Sebastiaan will be paid from our Human Resource Fund, which WekaIO seeded and expanded through two generous donations. We are thankful to everyone who has donated so far, but we need to keep growing it. There’s a good deal of work out there that can improve the ecosystem if we have the money to throw at it. You can donate directly through the Human Resource Fund donation page, where we apply the same rewards as listed on our OpenCollective page, or you can donate $60 through our special donation page and we’ll send you a DConf 2019 t-shirt.

We also welcome direct donations to our General Fund. You can make indirect donations by shopping through AmazonSmile at smile.amazon.com and selecting the D Language Foundation as your preferred charity. We’ll receive a small percentage of your purchases through that URL (and we’re only available through the .com domain, not .uk, .de, .jp, or any other Amazon domain). There are browser extensions, such as Smile Always for Chrome and Smart Amazon for Firefox, that will automatically send you to the smile subdomain when you visit amazon.com. You can also turn on AmazonSmile in the Amazon Mobile App.

Purchases through the DLang Swag Emporium also send money to the general fund. We get a commission on every item sold, but if you visit through this link (or the one in the sidebar) which contains our referral number, we’ll get referral commissions on any item you buy on your visit to Zazzle, including those in our own store. We’re selling D-themed coffee mugs, stickers, t-shirts, hoodies and now wrapping paper. We’ll be adding more items and more emblems as time goes by. So far, you’ve helped us raise $135.05.

SAOC 2019

SAOC 2019 Milestone 3 wraps up on December 15. The final round kicks off the same day. Out of five who started the event back in September, four remain. The reviewers have largely been pleased with their efforts so far. At the end of Milestone 4 in January, only one of the four remaining participants will be eligible for the final $1000 payment and the award of a free trip to DConf 2020.

The participants are supposed to be posting weekly updates in the General forum, so you can follow their progress there. After the event, I’ll ask those who didn’t get the grand prize to write about their projects and their SAOC experience here on the blog.

The D Language Foundation, the SAOC reviewers, and I wish good luck to all of the participants as they enter the final stretch. They’ve been working hard and picking one “winner” isn’t going to be easy!

DConf 2020

Preparations for DConf 2020 are well underway. At the moment, I’m waiting on the news that the venue contract has been signed and delivered. As soon as I hear that, I’ll come straight to the blog with the announcement. I’m hoping to be able to announce our invited keynote at the same time, but I’ll not delay the main announcement for it.

What I can tell you now is that we’ll have a longer submission period this year. We’ll also keep the registrations open longer. We’re aiming to bring new people in and are currently discussing a special event with that goal in mind. That will require an advertising budget this time around. We did some advertising for DConf 2018 and learned some lessons in the process. We hope to apply them to better effect for 2020. Any donations you can make to the General Fund will help us toward that end.

Keep it Going

Thanks to all who have contributed their time, their energy, and their money to help make the D language and the D community what they are today. We’ve come a long way since the day I first stumbled upon the Digital Mars website in the summer of 2003. But there’s always more work to do. Newcomers to D have no perception of what came before, only of the way things are when they arrive. We need to continually improve the DLang experience, meet the expectations that surround a modern programming language, and live up to the ideal. That means we are always in need of more donations of time, energy, and money. If you have any to spare, we welcome it!

SAOC 2019 Projects and Participants

Symmetry Investments logoLast Sunday, August 18, was the deadline for Symmetry Autumn of Code 2019 applications. We received a total of eight applications, which is the same number we saw last year. This time around we were able to accept more than three: five of the applicants will be participating.

The applications were reviewed by the five members of the SAOC 2019 Committee. Each member independently ranked the applications in order of preference. Points were assigned based on the rankings and the top five applications were accepted.

Before we get into the details of the projects, on behalf of the D Language Foundation and the SAOC team, I’d like to publicly thank all eight applicants for taking the time to submit an application. I’d also like to thank Laeeth Isharc and Symmetry Investments for sponsoring the event again this year, and our five SAOC Committee members for volunteering their time throughout the event:  John Colvin, Mathias Lang, Átila Neves,  Robert Schadek, and Ethan Watson. They will be monitoring the progress of each project through the milestone reports and ultimately will select one participant to receive an extra $1000 payment and an all-expense paid trip to DConf 2020.

The Projects

  • Multi-Level Intermediate Representation Support for LDC – According to the MLIR project README, it’s “a common intermediate representation” intended to “unify the infrastructure required to execute high performance machine learning models in TensorFlow and similar ML frameworks”. Roberto Rosmaninho’s primary project goal is to provide the LDC D compiler with “a new level of abstraction to support the integration of MLIR into the D ecosystem”. Roberto is working on a Computer Science major and is an undergraduate research assistant at Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. His mentor for the project is Nicholas Wilson.
  • Implement DIP 1014 and expand support for C++ STL containers – Suleyman Sahmi’s main goal is to “advance the existing work on [the] D interface to C++ STL containers”. There is a project at GitHub geared toward that end which Manu Evans and Laeeth Isharc have been working on and which is blocked on the lack of an implementation for DIP 1014, along with a few issues with the D ABI and name mangling. He first intends to implement DIP 1014, then he’ll resolve several of the related DMD bugs and will use the remaining time to expand support for the C++ STL. Suleyman is a self-taught programmer from Morocco and already has become a contributor to DMD.
  • DPP with Linux kernel headers – The DPP tool, which allows D modules to directly #include C and C++ headers, currently is unable to work with the Linux kernel headers. Cristian Becerescu aims to fix that. If he is able to do so with time remaining, he will work on further improvements and refinements to DPP, including ironing out issues it might have with other C library headers the community brings to his attention. Cristian is a 4th-year Computer Science and Engineering student at University Politehnica of Bucharest. He is fortunate to have two mentors for this project in the form of Edi Staniloiu and Razvan Nitu.
  • Create a CI or other infrastructure for measuring D’s progress and performance – Max Haughton, an 18-year-old British physics student, will be taking on the task of “creating a mechanism by which we can measure various properties of the D ecosystem in a deterministic manner”. This includes properties such as compilation time, compile-time memory usage, and profiling the compiler to determine “why performance is what it is”. He also intends to extend it to run-time performance by “forming a set of benchmarks by which we can profile Phobos and druntime both against their versions…and the version of the compiler”.
  • Solve Dependency Hell: link with more than one version of the same project – When a project has dependencies that in turn rely on different versions of the same library, steps must be taken to reconcile the version difference in order to successfully compile. If it’s even possible, it’s cumbersome and introduces new difficulties. Tiberiu Lepadatu aims to solve this problem of Dependency Hell by making it possible to compile a project with multiple versions of the same library. This is considered as a crucial first step in making Phobos available via the DUB registry. Tiberiu is no stranger to D and has contributed to the core projects in the past. He will likely be working with Sebastian Wilzbach as his mentor.

Getting Under Way

The SAOC participants will spend the next three weeks preparing to get their projects started. They’ll be compiling their Milestones, doing research, and those without a mentor will be searching for one. Things officially kick off on September 15, with Milestone deadlines falling on the 15th of each month through January.

This year, we’ll be expecting the participants to make weekly updates in the forums. We will also encourage them to spend time on IRC, Slack, or Discourse to get to know the community, discuss their projects, and find inspiration in solving the challenges they’ll face. We encourage all members of the D community to show their support and help keep up motivation.

Each of these projects will improve the D ecosystem.We’re fortunate to have this opportunity, along with out participation in the currently ongoing Google Summer of Code, to get so much done without the need to raise more money or dig into our Human Resource Fund. We should all be willing to do what we can to help these projects succeed.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to working with these five programmers in the coming months and to seeing all of them make it through to the end of a successful Symmetry Autumn of Code!

 

Task Bounties Have Arrived

In 2013, Facebook launched a page for D bounties at BountySource. It saw a burst of excitement, a few bugs fixed, and then went quiet. By 2017, it had been “deemed unsuccessful”. In internal discussions on fundraising options and how to increase community participation in fixing bugs, the topic of bug bounties has often come up, but the failure of the BountySource page has led us to different alternatives and we’ve never tried to revive it. Last year, before we opened our OpenCollective page, we requested that BountySource refund all unpaid bounties and received confirmation that they had done so. Still, we’re always open to new approaches.

In June of this year, Mathias Lang, the CTO of BPF Korea (BOS Platform Foundation), signaled interest in offering bounties on a few issues and asked the D Language Foundation for suggestions on how to go about it. Given our increasing usage of Flipcause to handle our donations, and the benefits we get in terms of processing fees when more of our donation money is going through Flipcause, it was an easy decision to make. We could set up a menu with multiple campaigns, one for each bounty. Community members would be free to add to money to specific bounties, try their hand at fixing them, or request new bounties be added to the menu.

As of today, the D Task Bounties menu is live.

The Task Bounty System

There are several bounties available, some of which are tied to a Bugzilla issue. The remainder provide a description of the task and the conditions for receiving the bounty. Click a card on the menu to see the details, including the amount of the bounty. You can also increase the bounty of any of the issues by clicking on the card and submitting a donation.

There’s also a Task Bounty Catch-All campaign. This is where you can add to the bounties for multiple tasks with one credit card transaction; click the Catch-All card, enter the total amount you’d like to donate, and specify in a comment how the money is to be dispersed. You can also seed a new bounty through the Catch-All campaign; donate the amount you’d like to seed and either provide a Bugzilla issue number in the comment field or go to the menu at the top of the page, click Contact, and provide a detailed description of the issue and the conditions under which the bounty will be payable.

Bounties on any D ecosystem project are acceptable. Where possible, when seeding a new one, please try to connect it to a Bugzilla issue, a GitHub issue, or equivalent in the project’s issue tracker. We prefer bounties that are not tied to any issue to be the exception rather than the rule.

The conditions for payment of any bounty tied to a core DLang Bugzilla issue is always the same by default: the issue must be closed through a pull request being merged and subsequently shipped in a release of the affected program (dmd, dub, rdmd, etc..). Conditions may be altered by the person who seeds the bounty (e.g., if you decide to seed a bounty for a Bugzilla issue, you can request that payment be made when the PR is merged). Conditions for payment of bounties on issues for other projects must be stated in the description.

I want to reiterate: the conditions for payment of the bounty are entirely up to the person who seeds it, but they must be set when seeding the bounty (or left to the default in the case of Bugzilla issues).To receive a bounty, please email social@dlang.org when the conditions for payment have been met. You’ll need links to the pull request(s) and any other information we need to verify that you’re eligible. You’ll also need an account with a payment service of some kind (preferably Circle, TransferWise, or PayPal).

We’ll see how it goes and adapt with any rules or restrictions as needed. Our goal is to improve the D ecosystem for everyone, and if some folks can make a little money out of it in the process that’s even better. Ideas, suggestions, and feedback are always welcome.

Other News

I want to thank everyone who has donated $60.00 to the HR Fund in exchange for a DConf 2019 t-shirt. I’d also like to thank everyone who has donated directly to the HR Fund Campaign (for a DMan shirt or not). A big thanks especially to WekaIO, who have provided us with the lion’s share of the total. With the $360 we’ve raised with the DConf t-shirts, the fund is currently at $16,345. We still need to keep it growing, so don’t get complacent!

The application deadline for SAOC 2019 is tomorrow,  midnight AoE. Don’t be late!

Finally, for those of you who would like to support the D Language Foundation through Amazon Smile but never remember to go to smile.amazon.com, there’s a browser plugin for that! You can get Smile Always for Chrome or Smart Amazon Smile for Firefox. That way, you can always be sure to support your selected charity with 0.5% of your purchase price when you shop at Amazon.

D Summer School Postmortem

The first edition of the D summer school, held at University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, took place from the 17th of June to the 4th of July. It was three weeks of bootcamping bachelor students into the basics of D during eight sessions of hands-on workshops, a homework project, and ending with a hackathon. We will describe our experience in organizing the program, teaching the students, and trying to integrate them into the D community.

Who we are

We are Edi Staniloiu and Razvan Nitu, two PhD students at UPB, doing our theses in close relationship with the D programming language. For the past three years been recipients of scholarships from the D Language Foundation for contributing to the D ecosystem—you might also know us under the pseudonym of “Andrei’s students”.

During our first two years of contributing to D our focus was entirely on technical aspects, but last year we started thinking on how we can raise the popularity of the language both in our community and in the local industry. The summer school represents our first step in this direction.

Inception

The idea of organizing a summer school first occurred to us during DConf 2018 in Munich. We presented our thoughts to Andrei and he reacted with enthusiasm, but unfortunately there was too little time to organize something before the start of July. Why so early? Because that’s when students finish with their finals and prepare to leave for their internships. In UPB we have a wide range of summer schools that all start in that period and it doesn’t play well to go against tradition. So we decided to postpone it.

Even though we had to put off the summer school, we still wanted to introduce D to bachelor students one way or another. We thought that the best way to do so would be through a bachelor thesis project. That’s how we ended up working with Alex Militaru on his bachelor project, “D for a @safer Linux Kernel”, which he presented at DConf 2019 in London.

Alex is a top student, but he had never even heard of D. It’s not a difficult language to learn for anyone with programming experience, but it does take time to adapt to the details and subtleties of the language. This made for a rough start, as Alex had a very small time frame to learn it. The potential benefits of an introductory D school came to mind again, making us even more motivated to turn it into a reality. That’s when we committed to making the D summer school happen in 2019.

First steps

The first thing that we had to agree on was the set of topics we were going to cover. D has a lot of interesting features. Books of 300 to 500 pages have been written describing them in various levels of detail. We would not have the time to delve into all the details, so our goal was to touch all the basic concepts without being boring, but also highlight some of the most interesting aspects without being too complex. After a polite debate (which was neither polite, nor a debate)
we agreed on the following topics:

  1. Introduction to D: builtin types, arrays (static, dynamic, associative), slices, imports, functions
    (UFCS), unit tests, contract programming, user-defined types.
  2. Introduction to meta-programming: enum, static if, static foreach, templates, template constraints.
  3. Memory safety: @safe, type qualifiers, template inference, template this parameters.
  4. Advanced D concepts: operator overloading, alias, alias this, overload sets, function attributes, ranges.
  5. Multi-threading: data sharing, concurrency, synchronized, fibers
  6. GC vs. Manual Memory Management.
  7. Interoperability with C/C++ and tooling.
  8. Design by introspection: __traits, mixin, tuples, CTFE, pragmas.

Each session was expected to last three hours: one hour of theoretical presentation and two hours of hands-on exercises (keyboard bashing). The theoretical structure was inspired (and some times shamelessly copy-pasted) from Ali’s awesome (and freely available) book. On this occasion, we would like to publicly thank him for allowing us to use his material.

The practical hands-on segment was split into two: a tutorial and observation period where the student, typically, had to run a program and understand the outcome; a hands-on period where the student had to write code to solve a given problem or fix some intentionally inserted bug.

In order to apply for the summer school, students had to complete an assignment we devised. The was the basis on which they were selected. If you are interested in details you can check our official page where all the materials are located.

Marketing

Now that we knew what the summer school was going to look like, all we had to do was find the students that would attend it. This may not sound like hard work, but here are a few considerations that will put things into perspective:

  1. Every summer school, naturally, wants to attract the best possible students.
  2. There are at least 6 summer schools taking place in UPB during the same period.
  3. Many students have summer internships.

As you can see, not only did we have to compete with other established summer schools, but we also had to convince students that their free time after work would be well spent and that they would learn something cool, interesting, and, most importantly, useful.

Considering that both of us are complete noobs when it comes to marketing, we can say that this was the most challenging part. Luckily, our mentors Razvan Rughinis and Razvan Deaconescu, well established professors in our university and traditional summer school creators, were available to coach us through the basics of human manipulation, a.k.a. marketing. Their contributions came in many forms:

  • they used their status to promote the summer school on all the university’s social media platforms
  • they highlighted the fact that “Secure and Fast Programming in D” is a catchier title than the
    blunt “D Summer School” that we had originally used
  • they provided the grounds for obtaining funding from a local organization, Tech Lounge

With that, all we had to do was wait for students to apply.

The Actual Summer School

Contrary to our expectations, we weren’t flooded with student applications. Actually, rather disappointingly, we did not fill all of our spots. However, after consulting the history of the other summer schools, we learned that our expectations of gathering 40 students were rather unrealistic. To make a comparison, the star summer school in our university, which is the Security Summer School (currently in its 6th edition), had only 15 student applications and 10 participants in its debut year, and saw 40 student applications this year. By that standard, our total of 11 student applications doesn’t look that bad. After checking the submitted assignments, we decided that we would accept all of them.

Most of the summer school went according to plan, with some minor differences:

  • The theoretical part, usually, took more than the planned timeslot of 1 hour, due to the high interest that students expressed with regard to the presented topics. Although we appreciated the level of interest, the remaining time often wasn’t sufficient to finish the practical part.
  • It happened that Andrei Alexandrescu was in Romania during the summer school, so we thought it would be neat if he would teach the “Design by Introspection” course. As was expected, Andrei nailed it and the students were thrilled. However, after the presentation, the hype did not permit us to continue with the practical part, so we had to postpone it to another day. This put us into the position of dropping the “GC vs MMM” course, because we felt that it was more important to have the students get their hands dirty with some DbI.
  • We had also planned that the students complete homework project during the summer school period. The assignment was to implement a simple peer-to-peer file sharing application using vibe-d. The project was intended for them to exercise their newly developed skills, but given the fact that most of the students were attending the summer school after they had previously gone to work, this left them with little time and energy to put into the project.
  • The end-of-school hackathon was intended to have them finish their projects, but in reality, most of the projects were still in an incipient phase. The consequence was that nobody finished their project.

The funding that we obtained from Tech Lounge was used to buy beverages and snacks that were offered throughout the workshops. In addition, we used the money to buy personalized D T-shirts, pizza, and beer/soda/water for everyone during the hackathon.

Next edition

For the second edition (which will take place in June 2020) we will start marketing early, as soon as the school year starts in October 2019 (this year we started marketing in April). Hopefully, this will raise awareness and will lead to an increased number of participants.

We would also like to expand our team by integrating this years’ participants into the teaching and material development process, thus increasing the quality of the experience for future participants.

As it has proven ineffective, the homework project will be dropped; instead, the students will be encouraged at the hackathon to make a Pull Request in one of the core D projects.

Conclusions

At the end of the summer school, we felt that the students were impressed with the language and its capabilities. Most of them have expressed their desire to get involved in the community. In response, we have encouraged them to apply to the Symmetry Autumn of Code or contribute to the wider D ecosystem. We cannot know which path they will take from here but hope that they will continue to build on their recently acquired D skills.

The summer school did not represent the only way in which students could get a crash course on D, but it did increase our exposure to other departments at UPB. As a result, we’ve had multiple discussions on how we can integrate D in various university projects. To name a few:

All these discussions are now materializing in student project proposals, thus expanding our community.

All in all, we feel that this was a great first edition. Not only did we have great students who will hopefully join our community, but we are now also on the radar of our university peers.

Now we’re looking forward for “Secure and Fast Programming in D” V2!

The DLang Swag Emporium (and more)!

It’s been quite a long time coming, but I’ve finally gotten around to setting up a storefront where folks can purchase D swag and support the D Language Foundation at the same time. You can now head over to the DLang Swag Emporium and throw some money at us.

At the moment, you can buy t-shirts, hoodies, and coffee cups sporting the Digital Mars logo and the D Rocket. If the prices appear arbitrary, they are not. They’re based on the cost of the item and the percentage that the Foundation takes in. I’ve set the percentages from 11.5% to 20%, depending on the base cost of the item, with the D Rocket items sending us more money than the Digital Mars logo. I’ll add more items in regular updates, so please keep an eye out for something you like if there’s nothing there for you now.

At some point, I’ll see about integrating the shop into dlang.org. Until then, the store page as it is will server its purpose just fine.

Please remember, we’ve also got DConf 2019 shirts available for anyone willing to donate $60 to our Human Resource Fund through this link. DMan shirts are available for those who can make a one-time donation of $100, or the shirt and a guaranteed DConf discount to those who can set up an annual donation of $200, through this link. The Human Resource Fund is our top fundraising priority right now. Please help us grow it!

As I mentioned in the forums recently, we’ll be setting up a bug bounty system through our Flipcause account Real Soon Now. This week I got an update from the company that’s seeding the system with a few issues. They’re getting their list and the dollar amounts finalized. But anyone who wants to get us started Even Sooner is welcome to contact me with a Bugzilla issue number and a dollar amount, then I’ll get it set up.

I hope to see some of those D Rocket and Digital Mars t-shirts at DConf 2020!